The same commandos who launched a nighttime assault on aid ships bound for Gaza will also try and stop the Irish aid ship Rachel Corrie.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made clear late Thursday that the ship will not be allowed into Gaza but will be boarded and brought to an Israeli port.
Israeli navy sources told the Jerusalem Post that the operation would be carried out by commandos from Flotilla 13 –several of whom took part in their earlier engagement at sea that left nine aid workers dead, including one American citizen, who was shot four times in the head.
The plan is to board the Rachel Corrie, the newspaper says.
The Israelis have asked that Rachel Corrie would voluntarily sail to Ashdod Port rather than be boarded.
There have been discussions this week between Israel and the Irish government about the Ashdod plan.
However, speaking to The Irish Times from the Rachel Corrie yesterday, former UN official Denis Halliday strongly denied reports that the ship had turned back or that it would go to another port.
He said they hoped to make Gaza by the weekend.
“If we are not boarded beforehand, we hope to be in Gaza by Saturday,” Halliday said.
“We cannot accept an offer of an escort to another port which could jeopardize safe delivery of our cargo of construction and educational materials and medical supplies.
“We fear that any such escort could mean that our 550 tons of cement on board and our educational material would be confiscated by the Israelis, given that they do not define this as humanitarian goods – in breach of the UN definition of same,” he said.
The Israeli Navy and members of the Free Gaza flotilla differ on where the ship is at this time.
Israeli navy says its arrival is imminent.
However, a major cat and mouse game is underway to ascertain when the Rachel Corrie, which was fitted out in Dundalk in Ireland, reaches Gaza.
Irish Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Corrigan Maguire is on board as well as several other Irish nationals.
The Rachel Corrie is described as "rather decrepit, shallow-hulled trading vessel meant for trade between locations on the same continent or island," and not ideal for the trip to Gaza from Ireland.
Earlier reports stated that Israeli intelligence sabotaged the ship when it was at anchor in Cyprus. The ship was delayed there and did not arrive with the rest of the flotilla.
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